Meanwhile most pro-SSPX voices in the blogosphere right now are skeptical and unsupporting of the initiative. I understand the arguments. Pope Francis is arguably the most questionable pope in Church history. The Dubia of the 4 Cardinals has backed him into a corner; a first-step Formal Correction is expected. The modernists want to quarantine off the traditionalists, and one day snuff
The crux of the matter is the sine qua non requirement of the Society before it will sign: it must be admitted they have the right to publicly resist-criticize-clarify certain doctrinal errors in the documents of Vatican II and the text of the New Mass. In other words they must be accepted AS IS.
The Vatican Prelate in charge of SSPX-Vatican negotiations recently stated that the Society's doctrinal positions (dubia) are in fact permissible, and not an impediment to their canonical regularization. By the way, this one issue has been THE issue until now.
The Vatican modernists who want to make the Pastoral Council an infallible super-dogma, and make Catholics blindly accept it--without actually catechizing them about it in the first place--have been holding Absolute Acceptance of all VII documents over the heads of the SSPX, under threat of excommunication. Turns out their human ultimatum is not orthodox. Admitting the pastoral statements in question are not infallible, and the SSPX (and I'd think the FSSP, etc) can in fact raise public objections would be a major paradigm shift, I'd think. The question of the Vatican II Reform would become a more universal discussion.
Turns out that yes, Catholics can respectfully question non-infallible, pastoral statements, without being labelled schismatics, as theologians have done before over certain statements made by ecumenical councils.
Archbishop Lefebvre himself stated several times, even towards the end of his life after relations with Rome broke down, that he wanted an "Experiment of Tradition," his words, an experiment, as long as they were not required to compromise on doctrine, and could have their own bishop. To try it.
Flash forward 25+ years later, and the Superior General Bishop Fellay has achieved much more leverage and protection for the Society in relations with Rome. The stigma of being backward for their attachment to the Tridentine Mass has at least been officially lifted with Summorum Pontificum, after which a Motu Proprio Latin Mass movement exploded worldwide, with many more priests and laity thinking along the lines of the SSPX and actually in support of it. The doctrinal issues have been underlined and clarified as best as can be expected for now by the 2009-2011 SSPX-Vatican Doctrinal Commission.
And it was NEVER a sine qua non of ABL that modernist Rome must first convert back to Tradition, and that a normal state of the Church be restored.
So yes, I'm an SSPX Accordista, 100% in favor of trying a Personal Prelature ad experimentum. Here's my top 10 reasons why I think it's a good idea.
Top 10 Reasons Why an SSPX Personal Prelature is a Good Idea:
1. As Bishop Schneider recently stated, if Rome pressures the SSPX to compromise on their identity, they can resist to the point of pulling out of the Personal Prelature and continue as they have been since their illegal suppression in 1975.
Recent Interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider about the SSPX Personal Prelature. This is BRILLIANT. A MUST WATCH. Pop some Popcorn!
2. Every SSPX chapel, school, priory, etc already established on all the habitable continents (the international SSPX is huge by the way), would automatically be approved by Rome permanently within each individual diocese, with a permanent right to continue independent of the local bishop.
3. The head of the SSPX prelature would be a Bishop with jurisdictional authority over the laity who attend SSPX chapels, such that the laity are not compelled to attend Mass anywhere else than an SSPX chapel. This would be laid out in the STATUTES of the prelature, in a very specific way that guarantees autonomy of the SSPX effectively as a "non-territorial diocese." The key to the structure is the statutes, which by all reports has already been worked out.
4. The Archbishop always wanted an "Experiment of Tradition." Some SSPX supporters may not know that the Archbishop insisted to his priests that they maintain relations with Rome and seek ordinary union with the pope, based on the doctrinal imperatives of unity with the Successors of St. Peter. He was not a sedevacantist or stubborn separatist.
5. According to Bishop Fellay in a recent interview, the Bishop over the SSPX would be able to incardinate new religious orders under its umbrella. That would not only include the MANY orders, monasteries, and convents already under the SSPX umbrella, but anytime a traditionalist order or priest gets evicted from a diocese, no worries, they can go under the SSPX. Mother Miriam, if you're reading, I hope you'd consider this option for your community recently severed from the Tulsa Diocese.
6. The SSPX will not allow itself to be quarantined off. No, it is arguably the most evangelical force of traditional Catholicism in the world. True, many of its members can tend to be insular, but its momentum has always been outward, pro-active, and international. I think that comes from the extraordinary apostolic spirit of the saintly missionary bishop who founded their society.
Trouble is their irregular status has kept them in the dark in all dioceses. Almost no Catholic in any diocese knows about the local SSPX chapel. I can assure you, the canonically recognized SSPX will make sure Catholics in the diocese know they exist. Imagine the many dioceses who would at least somewhat welcome them or authentically tolerate them, such that they have access to avenues in the diocesan structure such as the Diocesan Registry of parishes, Catholic conferences, priest meetings, diocesan March for Life, etc, etc, etc. The SSPX is crafty. They have decades of experience knowing how to astutely navigate irregular settings.
7. A Prelature may mean a NEW phase for the Traditional Movement, increasing unity among traditionalists, which is greatly needed. For example, while I know that your average FSSP priest will not preach against the New Mass from the pulpit, catch them after Mass and most will gladly tell you its dangers. I'd wager a months wages most FSSP priests privately agree, for the most part, with Archbishop Lefebvre.
Officially, part of the raison de faire of the FSSP was to bridge the SSPX back into normal union with Rome, but unofficially they are practically almost the same entity as the SSPX. Decades of hostility can be addressed. I predict that the canonically recognized SSPX will become the unofficial unifier for the traditionalist movement. Many conservatives will shift to the right towards traditionalism, and many Ecclesia dei trads will gravitate more towards the SSPX.
Its ironic how the "Francis Effect" is indirectly solidifying the traditional practice of the Faith, as opposed to the post-Vatican II apostasy.
8. Truth be told, the irregular situation of the SSPX has partly created countless examples of bizarre weirdness in the Society. Sit down after Mass with someone who's been with the Society for years, and they'll admit there are many extreme elements and extremely dysfunctional patterns in the Society.
Bishop Fellay himself said this was one important reason to seek normalcy in the Church. I'm talking about Catholics who lack foundational knowledge about the institutional Church, the life of a diocese or even a normal parish life. I'd predict a small minority would resist this normalizing effect, and leave for "resistance" or sedevacantist chapels, but friends this experiment might make SSPX chapels more hospitable and inviting places to practice traditional Catholicism.
9. Our goal is not to form private clubs of self-enlightened traditionalists with gnostic knowledge about the Crisis. Our aim is not merely to have our private experience of the Tridentine Mass and acquire a "sacrament machine" priest to hear confessions and offer a valid Mass. Our spirit is not that of the synagogue, but that of the Catholic Church. We must be actively trying to bring all novus ordo Catholics to Catholic Tradition, which means to the True Mass at our chapels and parishes. The TLM is not a mere liturgical preference for a private group of Gregorian chant/Latin nerds who want conservative liturgy. A Prelature would communicate to the world more loudly than ever the reality of the traditional Mass/Faith.
10. All the conditions for an Agreement, as stipulated by Archbishop Lefebvre, and even more strictly by Bishop Fellay, HAVE FINALLY BEEN MET. All that is left is our prayers and Francis signing the Canonical Recognition.
Friends, I'm not trying to jerk around the Naysayers against this agreement. As an active supporter of the Society of St. Pius X for over 10 years now, I am simply stating the reality of what is about to happen, and advocating for us to support this initiative for the good of the Church and the Society.